December 16th, 2007 5:51 AM by
As a blogger, I read a lot of stories from a lot of different sources. This one made me smile when I read it. It's not an earth shattering story or a life changing story, just one that is fun to read.
This one was originally published in the Courier Post on December 3.
As Christmas approaches, we all start getting that warm and fuzzy feeling of home and family and friends. For my part, I love Christmas and everything that has to do with Christmas. Where the trees come from is just one tiny part of the whole Christmas feeling.
If you're looking for the best Christmas tree in New Jersey, don't bother.
Sue and John Wyckoff have already grown it and shown it.
The Warren County farmers were this year's winners at a statewide contest run by a Christmas-tree growers' group.
Now I know what you're thinking. Surely, an industry event like this must feature all the latest breakthroughs -- like the long-rumored self-tinseling spruce.
But no. Apparently, a tree's a tree -- and you pretty much take what nature gives you.
"A lot of it is luck," says Sue Wyckoff, whose family farm defeated about two dozen challengers from the 200-member New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers' Association.
"You start pruning the tree every year after two or three years, but there's not much else you can do," adds Mike Garrett, a Sussex County farmer who took first place in the contest's pine division.
The judges, just like customers, look for the basics -- color, density, shape.
"You don't want a tree that looks too perfect," says Garrett, using the same logic that led my wife to choose me. "Too good can look artificial."
In fact, it seems to me the appearance of Christmas trees -- so important when you choose them -- tends to blur in memory over time. What stands out are the memories.
Like a few years ago, when my wife and I heard a thunderous crash in the living room. We rushed in to find our tree toppled sideways, with 4-year-old Luke entangled in its boughs and balls.
His first words: "I wasn't climbing it!"
Luke won't be climbing any of this year's winners, either.
The contest was conducted at the Hunterdon County 4-H Fair -- way back in August.
Afterward, each competitor won a free trip through a chipper, turning even the grand champion into pedigreed mulch.
Then again, the growers say real trees are attractive because they help the ecology while artificial ones help the economy -- usually in China. Not surprisingly, they also prefer our trees to those from other states.
"The one that's trucked in was probably cut three weeks ago," asserts Anne Edwards of North Hanover, the group's president. The industry's also working to upgrade its product. John Wyckoff says you can look forward to a Fraser fir with stronger branches to better support fragile ornaments. That's better than the moody tree I buy year after year, which deliberately hurls my decorations to the floor.
Meanwhile, growers face a common problem -- choosing the tree that gets sacrificed each summer. "It's very difficult," Garrett says as a rooster cackles in the background. "I'll have one that I like on this side of the farm and one that's just as good on the other side. I understand what my customers are going through."
From a story publlished HERE.